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URA Lawyer To Sue Parliament Over Oil Cash Bonanza

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Ali Sekatawa, one of the beneficiaries of the controversial oil cash bonanza has threatened to petition court to stop government from implementing the recommendations of parliament on the matter. Abdu Katuntu, the COSASE Committee Chairperson, says those aggrieved by the report are free to go to court.
Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, Secretary to Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi and ministry officials at Parliament.
Ali Sekatawa, one of the beneficiaries of the controversial oil cash bonanza has threatened to petition court to stop government from implementing the recommendations of parliament on the matter.

This week, the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) tabled a 90-page report from investigations into the Shillings 6 billion presidential handshake. The committee came out with eight recommendations including the most controversial one, requiring the 42 beneficiaries to refund the money.

Parliament unanimously adopted the report, saying the beneficiaries flouted the law and should refund the money. But Sekatawa, a lawyer with Uganda Revenue Authority has vowed to challenge parliament in court. Sekatawa received more than Shillings 240 million according to records obtained by COSASE.

However, Sekatawa says he isn't ready to refund the money unless court decides to uphold the report from COSASE that is chaired by Bugweri MP, Abdu Katuntu. According to Sekatawa, the Committee selectively evaluated evidence leading to wrong conclusions on certain aspects and was populist in certain aspects. 

He says he is angry with the fact that Members of Parliament and sections of the public are challenging the patriotism he and his colleagues exhibited while arguing the tax dispute against two British firms then involved in Uganda's oil sector. Sekatawa is also challenging the fact that Parliament went on to adopt a report which was not signed by all the members of the committee that investigated the matter.

He is also of the view that Parliament has no authority to call on him and others that benefited from the Shillings 6 billion cash bonus to refund it because the money wasn't given by Parliament. The Committee found that URA Commissioner General, Doris Akol and others requested President Museveni to be rewarded. Akol received 242 million Shillings. 

Former Attorney General Fred Ruhindi got 226 million Shillings while the late former Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Kassami is said to have receive 93 million Shillings. The current Secretary to Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, received 106 million Shillings. Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi received over 120 million Shillings. 

Abdu Katuntu, the COSASE Committee Chairperson, says those aggrieved by the report are free to go to court. He insists that his committee had well-thought out arguments in reaching the eight conclusions in the report.

Katuntu wonders why all those that received the cash are not complaining about other recommendations including one requiring the executive to table a bill for a law to streamline presidential rewards in future.

He argues that the money shared by the 42 people didn't come from the President's donations budget. He says the money was drawn from the URA budget, which is appropriated by Parliament.  

 

Katuntu, himself a lawyer, said the argument that the report shouldn't have been adopted because some of the MPs did not sign it is baseless. He says only three serving MPs did not sign the report.

Katuntu explains that some of the MPs lost their parliamentary seats and therefore couldn't be allowed to sign the final report because they are no longer Members of Parliament.

He maintains that there was nothing ordinary beyond their ordinary schedule for the government officials to be paid extra money.